Together we thank Jesus for all He is doing in and through all of us at Lifecentre! Yet together we wish to prayerfully share our three greatest Pastoral Concerns and Steps we can together both begin or continue to take.
1. Concurrent, Not Singular Storms
We see concurrent, not singular storms the church must lovingly listen and respond. First, this pandemic-sized storm. Division on guidance, vaccinations, vaccine passports, to the heartbreaking loss of life, particularly in Long Term Care homes, the current pandemic is revealing much which needs healing. Secondly, a political storm of increased polarization. Civil disagreements are dwindling with civil destruction taking its place. Third, accelerating social change within Canada. Finally, how do we work together for Biblical justice regarding past and present issues of inequality. We recognize where we, as the church have fallen woefully short. So, how do we repent for the past, and restore our Christian witness in a society which sees us as the problem? How do we hold onto orthodox Christian beliefs, while walking in love towards others? These are questions each church must address.
2. Strife & Division.
Jesus is clear what happens when division takes root in a heart or a house. Division has lead to an erosion of faith in Jesus, Church, and the gospel. Together we are living through a time of intense strive, slander, division, and deconstruction. For many, it is not the pandemic, but the conflict, the upheaval which is keeping them away from church or LifeGroups. As Canadians it is important for us to wrestle with our rights along with our responsibilities. As Christians in Canada we too hold rights with responsibilities, but we are also called to walk in repentance and care deeply about Christ-like righteousness. Lord, build Your house.
3. Generational Tensions
Due to concurrent storms, strive, division, and where we as the church have fallen short, we are seeing generational tensions rise, which always produce generational gaps. In the 1960’s the the sexual revolution, created changing beliefs towards sexuality in Canada, this created a sizeable generational gap. One which took decades to bridge and heal. Today, due to the convergence of two revolutions, one is the continuation of the sexual revolution, the other a digital revolution, we are once again witnessing growing generational perspectives, which cause gaps and opportunity for division within intergenerational communities such as local churches. For the first time in history there are five concurrent generations living together. How we walk together is vital. Our call is to leave the church, to the next generation, in better hands than we received it.
Read any data, and this season has been immensely difficult for children. We applaud our LifeKids team for ministering Online. Yet, not having a single in person service for 19 months. To put this in perspective, there were babies born who’ve yet to be ministered to in our Nursery. Children who turned four, who have no memory of what it means to go to church. This are formative years, and this is a concern.
Like adults, we have been able to gather both online and in person with our students. Yet ministry to students, in spite of our amazing Student Pastors, isn’t remotely the same. We are closing in on two years with no retreats, summer camps, events, or times for students to just hang out and be together. At the same time, ethics and values of all their peers are changing around them. These too are formative years, and this too is a prayerful concern of ours.
20’s & 30’s:
Are being buffeted by social change, media, pressure and expectations. Deconstruction is taking place. Some both healthy and necessary, some unhealthy. You can leave orthodox Christian beliefs, while never leaving fundamentalism. How we treat others is critical. While able to return to in person services, this demographic has not yet returned. We need each generation following Jesus to see all generations follow Jesus. We know many are fully engaged online, and we celebrate this. We know having reduced in-person to children deeply affects parents. This is an ongoing concern and challenge to solve together.
40’s & Up:
Are perhaps in places of life dramatically different from the picture they had for themselves. You could find yourself in a place of leadership, succession, and are under the weight of living with and managing through social changes and generational tensions.
STEPS TO TAKE
While we share our three Pastoral Reflections, our concerns simultaneously, we don’t believe all this is the work of the enemy, or necessarily bad. Pruning is a necessary part of us loving and looking more like Jesus. It was Jesus who said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. Every branch in me that does not produce fruit he removes, and he prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples.” John 15:1-2, 8 (CSB)
Some branches being pruned or cut away were perhaps favourites, but we trust our Master Gardener – He knows what He is doing. What can you do in this moment? We want to prayerfully share four things we need each of us to not “cut out” in our following Jesus.
1. Follow Jesus. (Church, Discipleship, Serve, Share)
2. Build Lifecentre. (Engage, Serve, Sow)
3. Connect With Someone. (Above You, Beside You, Behind You)
4. Grow With Others. (LifeGroup, Bible School, Heartstrong)